Sales leaders need to respond to seven technology disruptions that will transform sales over the next five years, according to Gartner.
The technology innovations include: generative artificial intelligence (AI), digital twin of the customer, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), machine customers, digital humans, emotion AI and multimodality.
“Technology is taking on an even more central role in the sales process, and chief sales officers (CSOs) need to get ahead of a series of innovations that will significantly disrupt sales strategy, engagement, pricing and enablement,” said Noah Elkin, VP Team Manager in the Gartner Sales practice.
Machine customers are non-human economic actors that obtain goods or services in exchange for payment. For many organizations, the idea of selling to machine customers is not yet a reality, but now is the time to start planning for the eventuality. Sales leaders should begin developing sales forces that can effectively navigate the challenges of human, machine and hybrid selling environments.
Gartner research shows CEOs and CIOs believe one-fifth of their total revenue could come from machine customers by 2030.
Generative AI learns from existing content artifacts to generate new, realistic artifacts that reflect the characteristics of the training data, but do not repeat it. Generative AI can produce a variety of novel content such as images, video, music, speech, text, software code and product designs. By 2025, 30 percent of outbound messages from large organizations will be synthetically generated.
Digital Twin of the Customer
The digital twin of the customer is a dynamic virtual representation of a customer. It ingests data from personas and runs tests for sales messaging, sales processes and marketing campaigns to predict what does and doesn’t work for that customer. The market for digital twin enabling software and services is expected to reach $150 billion worldwide by 2030, up from $9 billion in 2022.
By 2025, 80 percent of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels, which means sales organizations need to actively look for new ways to engage with customers. The AR/VR experience will be integral as the metaverse ramps up, and B2B buying and selling becomes almost exclusively digital. In the next five years, AR/VR could be a critical sales channel to use in sales meetings, product demonstrations and sales training.
Digital humans are interactive, AI-driven representations that exhibit some of the characteristics, personality, knowledge, and mindset of a human. By 2026, half of B2B buyers will interact with a digital human in a buying cycle. Digital humans will take on tasks that humans don’t want to do, such as handling lead nurturing, old opportunities or leads that went nowhere.
Emotion AI technology can help by disrupting sellers’ empathic ability and alter buyer engagement. It’s a system that analyzes, processes, and responds to user emotion.
By 2024, AI identification of emotions will influence roughly half of the online ads buyers see. It will be able to read faces and emails, and determine which ads are going to work on a given buyer.
Multimodality means that there will be multiple modes for sellers to log activities, helping sales leaders to address data challenges. By 2025, 70 percent of all B2B seller-buyer interactions will be recorded to extract competitive, deal and market insights using AI, machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP).